Want to save money on your vacation home? Let’s talk energy efficiency.

April 22, 2021

Want to save money on your vacation home? Let’s talk energy efficiency.

Being in South Florida, while we have great weather – we also have crazy storms and the temperatures can drop to colder temps and we even get frost (believe it or not). Whether you’re actively using your vacation home or heading back to your primary residence for an extended period of time, implementing a few simple changes to using some energy efficiency techniques and solutions can be a great way to cut costs year-round. You may even want to use some of these in your primary home!


1. Air Filters: Clean, replace or use a reusable option

With the humid air in Florida air filters can get pretty dirty so cleaning and replacing them is key. Why? If not addressed regularly, soiled filters will not only impact allergies and air quality, they also reduce your HVAC/AC system’s overall efficiency – making it work harder and potentially costing you more in the long run (i.e., repairs). In an occupied home, it’s recommended to replace/clean your air filters at least every three months; while in an unoccupied vacation home, the goal is every five to six months.

You might think, how will I keep track of this with everything else there is to manage? Simply set a reminder on your phone for the timeframe that suits the need (i.e., three or six months).

If you leave a stack of filters for your Home Watch provider they can offer to replace them for you.

2. Install smart home devices

Smart Thermostat
Florida gets hot! It also cools off during the winter, so having a smart thermostat would allow you to control the temperature of your entire home from your smart phone. Also, it can help with efficiency! You can set and forget your temps based on the time of year, that way they’re not fluctuating…just like your bill!

It’s pretty simple to replace your outdated thermostat with a smarter version, just make sure to do your research on the best fit for you, the existing technology in your home and what you travel with (i.e., your phone or laptop). Most, if not all, will have various programming features you can set your heat and air conditioning to turn on and off at certain times of day. Additionally, because it’s a smart device and you can access it remotely, you can keep track of how often the system runs when you’re not there. What’s more, if you allow guests to stay in your house, you won’t have to worry about them leaving the heat or incorrect AC temp on when they leave.

A couple of things to think about:

    1. Batteries can die in regular thermostats as well as in smart devices, so it’s good to have someone from Home Watch stop by regularly to make sure they’re all running properly.
    2. The technology can be challenging to use.

Smart Lighting solutions
Many people like to leave on a few lights on for security purposes when leaving their vacation home. Using your regular lighting may seem like a good idea but it’s not very energy efficient unless you’ve changed everything to LED, as standard incandescent bulbs consume a lot of energy. If you can make a small investment changing those old bulbs —these types of bulbs last up to three-25 times longer and use up to 80% less energy.

To take your energy savings one step further, you might think about installing a smart lighting system. Again, there are many options out there, just do your homework before you choose one. Not only can you save energy but you can get your lights turned on before you arrive.

3. Repair Holes and Gaps (Preventive maintenance)

While not the most exciting thing to do on vacation, it’s a great preventative step in making sure there are not gaps or holes around pipes, recessed lights, vents, and chimneys with spray foam or caulk. Not only will this help with energy efficiency, it can also prevent leaks from the outside or other potential damage. So, if you don’t have a toolbox, bring one with you and take a few minutes look for and repair any holes or damage you find, making sure to seal any gaps and/or holes you might find with the required material (spray foam, caulk, etc.).

4. Adjust the Water Heater Thermostat Right Away

Did you know water heating accounts for about 18% of your home’s energy use? As soon as you get to your vacation home, take a quick glance at the water heater. You’re probably going to want to shower with hot water, so checking that first thing (before you unload and unpack) will help you get heated up faster so you can use it right away. Most water heaters are preset to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Dept of Energy recommends turning it down to 120 degrees for maximum energy efficiency.

On the flip side, if you don’t plan to use or return to your vacation home for several months at a time, you will probably want to turn off the water heater entirely. The shut off water supply valves allow you to save additional energy and prevent potential water damage.

5. Turn Off and Unplug All Electronics Before Leaving

This sounds like a no brainer but sometimes things can get a bit rushed as you prepare to leave your vacation home. Even when devices are powered off, many continue to use small amounts of energy – including many appliances and electronics…or anything with a “light on”. Before leaving your vacation home, unplug all devices, including computers, televisions, game consoles, coffee makers, toasters, lamps and microwaves. You could also unplug the fridge, just make sure it’s empty, leave the doors open and put some baking soda inside (via those boxes).

In some areas, you may have several devices using the same outlet. So instead of unplugging each one, consider using a regular or smart power strip. Not only will it make the process of unplugging/turning things off faster, it can also help save your equipment and appliances in a power outage (acting as a surge protector).

Wasted energy use in a vacation home can add up—especially when you aren’t there every day to check on the property. Smart devices are great but they’re not 100% reliable and that’s where A-Z Home Watch can help. With our 21-point checklist, we review all of things in this article and more.

Contact us today for your free consultation

Written by Doris Fink

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